4/16/2014

What's The Trouble in Music? Special Needs Child or Teacher?



So I emailed I.J.'s kindergarten teacher and paraprofessional about his behavioral issues in music class on Tuesdays.  I voiced my concerns and also that perhaps he was having some sensory issues. 




I received a very nice email back about the situation and the teacher advised "The Music teacher has high expectations during class. She is a great teacher trying to get a lot of great activities and teaching into a short time."   Hmm sounds like the music teacher is a bit controlling to me….hope she isn't ignoring I.J.'s IEP??  However, his Kindergarten teacher went on to say that there are several students in the class who have been having a hard time lately, and especially in that class. So perhaps they have been causing friction with I.J. or enticing him to act up as well.  Any way, they are now sending I.J. to her class with his noise-reduction headphones, sensory seat cushion that helps him focus. Yesterday he had a great day in music and there were no issues. I did notice in I.J.'s daily notes binder that the regular music teacher was out, however, and there was a substitute.  Makes me still wonder if it is something with that teacher.

School only runs through the end of May and then it is summer break. I am hoping whatever issues I.J. is having with music class will work themselves out by then. Perhaps the Kindergarten teacher and the para-professional will see a pattern if the music teacher is out again and a substitute comes and I.J. has a great day…and if so, they will have a talk with Ms. Music?? I know my son has to learn to cope, and be responsible for his own actions and reactions as well as deal with a wide variety of people and personalities….but with his own challenges I hope we won't encounter too many teachers who are inflexible or intolerant when it comes to children with special needs and an IEP.  Yes he needs to behave and to "perform" to a certain standard, especially given his advanced intellect….but he is 5 years old, and does have SPD, ADHD. She needs to keep that in mind and have compassion.  Let's hope she can. 

Making music, listening to and learning about music and instruments should be fun and enjoyable for kids. Auditory Processing issues may make that a problem for kids with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), as well as kids with any form of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders). Compassionate, understanding, dedicated teachers and some minor accommodations can really help kids like my son thrive. My son's kindergarten teacher has helped my son really excel and feel comfortable and safe in an otherwise overwhelming atmosphere. I just  hope his music teacher can follow the lead and example set by his amazing kindergarten teacher and help him thrive in music class too!

4/09/2014

Playing Detective Mom!

I guess I need to play detective and try and find out what is going on at school with I.J. this week!  For the most part he does really well in kindergarden. He has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in place for his sensory issues and ADHD and his teacher and school staff really go above and beyond to help him succeed.  But something is going on in Music class on Tuesdays and his behavior is off. I need to find out what it is.



I.J. is assigned a para-professional who helps him in class when he starts to lose focus, his behavior gets off track, or if he should have sensory issues or meltdowns.  They've really taught him how to identify and gauge his feelings, and strategies to cope.  He can leave the room and go to the resource center and jump on a mini trampoline for a bit,  wrap up in a blanket and lay on a beanbag with a book for 10 minutes, or can run errands for teachers between classes and the office and that usually does the trick. Most days, he doesn't even need to turn to these tools, as he is doing so well.  He's getting used to catching himself when he feels issues coming on and make good choices or ask for help. 

However, something is going on in Music class on Tuesdays.  The para-professional sends home a progress/notes binder each afternoon that tells how I.J.'s day was, and about his successes and challenges.  She's noted things such as:  I.J. keeps calling the music teacher by her maiden name. (I guess she recently got married and changed it? Is this so bad? He is only 5, and also has a very difficult time with changes.)  He puts the tambourine over his head and acts silly. When the class sings, he sings different words and acts overly dramatic. He refuses to participate in some musical activities. He gets angry when he doesn't get a certain instrument (the triangle or recorder).  He refuses to sing sometimes. Says he hates music.

I am thinking it's a sensory issue - the loud singing/music is maybe an issue. Not sure - he enjoys music at home - but not childish preschool type of songs. His taste in music is more mature than that.  I am starting to wonder if it may be a power struggle issue between I.J. and this teacher, and if so - WHY? She may need to back off a bit and also remember his IEP. He tells me she will not allow him to leave the room if needed as his Kindergarten teacher does. I am going to see if I can talk with the para-professional and find out what is going on and figure out what we can do to help I.J. make better choices and stop butting heads with this teacher. I am also going to suggest he wear his noise-reduction headphones in the class, to mute the music volume somewhat.

He is on such a higher level academically and intellectually than his fellow classmates we were told. He tested at the higher end of 2nd grade reading level. He's between 1st-2nd grade level in math. Verbally/vocabulary I.J. is somewhere around 3rd grade or more. He is gifted and is part of the IDEA group at school - where certain gifted students get together and work on projects that are advanced in math, science, reading, etc. He enjoys that.  I've read gifted students enjoy music, but I.J. says it is boring to him.  I am wondering if there isn't an Executive Function issue going on with playing the instruments or if it is just plain anxiety?

I am going to start by emailing his para-professional and see what I can find out. Maybe we need to have a chat and see if I can get clues as to what is happening so that we can get this worked out. I don't want I.J. disrupting the class, and I want him to be able to do well, and use the tools he is learning to control his impulses, emotions and behavior.

I will figure this out!!

Has your child ever had a struggle at school with a certain teacher?  How did you work it out?

4/05/2014

Retro Girl's BBQ Bacon Chicken Rolls


I recently saw something on Pinterest about baking chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella cheese sticks. I really didn't bother to follow the link and read the recipe. I thought the photo looked delicious, but my hubby loves BBQ chicken. So I decided to make this on my own, in a way that my husband would enjoy.  I don't always measure the seasonings exactly when I am making recipes on the fly, so you may wish to use amounts you are comfortable with.

I love Weber Beer Can Chicken seasoning for chicken and pork chops. I don't make the actual Beer Can Chicken all the time - but I use the seasoning a lot!  


Retro Girl's BBQ Bacon Chicken Rolls

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, thawed. (I use Kroger Simple Truth Organic).
6 Strips of Center Cut uncured bacon (no-nitrites)
1/4 Cup of Organic Chicken broth or stock
3 Organic Mozzarella Sticks (I used about 3/4 of each stick and discarded the ends…to the dog).
1/2 Cup BBQ Sauce - your favorite brand. Use this amount, or a bit more if you prefer.
Seasonings:  Generous Pinch of Salt, Pepper, Minced dried Garlic
1/2 to 3/4 Tsp of Weber Beer Can Chicken seasoning

Heat Oven to 350 degrees (f). Spray glass baking dish with non-stick spray or mist with olive oil.
Pour half of the chicken broth/stock in bottom of pan.
Combine dry seasonings in small bowl.

Place thawed chicken breasts in large zip closure bag.  Using meat tenderizing hammer, pound thin.
Remove chicken breasts from bag and place on cutting board.  
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with half of the seasonings.
Place cheese stick on chicken breast and roll around the cheese. 
Wrap 2 slices of the bacon around each chicken breast. 
Put the chicken breast rolls into the prepared pan.
Pour remainder of chicken stock/broth over the chicken breast rolls.
Baste with the BBQ Sauce, covering each breast.  Sprinkle with remainder of dry seasonings.
Cover dish with foil and Bake in oven for 30 minutes. 
Uncover dish after 30 mins - and spoon sauce over chicken again.
Bake another 20-25 minutes uncovered. Chicken should come out fully cooked, and very tender.






Serve and enjoy!  I served mine with honey glazed carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes. It was a huge hit!  This was a quickly taken photo - sorry for the poor resolution.





4/02/2014

Help Your Family Beat the Beige Foods Blues and Eat Healthier!




Does your child eat a Beige Diet? My son I.J. has always been a pretty healthy eater. But sometimes he does have a tendency, like many children, to gravitate towards Beige Foods - crackers, pretzels, pasta, pancakes, bagels, the dreaded chicken nuggets and other low-nutrition carbohydrates.  He does eat fruit and veggies but sometimes goes through stages where he is eating a narrower variety of foods and snubbing healthier options. 




Steering kids away from a Beige Diet can be difficult for moms, and can cause health issues for your child -- especially when they have special needs.  Eating mostly Beige Foods can really affect children's moods, and activity levels. Some kids will experience a surge of hyperactivity, anxiety or even sensitivity when their diet narrows. This only exacerbates issues for kids with ADHD, Autism, or SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  I can tell you firsthand, that I can see evidence of this when my son hasn't been eating so well.  He will become very moody, aggressive, and more of a hyper sensory-seeker. That in turn makes me a bit more anxious. This is no fun for any of us!

In reading an article called "Chasing Away Your Child's Beige Diet Blues" from Sensory Focus Magazine, I learned that both kids and adults can become hooked on Beige Foods and not realize it or realize how unhealthy eating this way can be for us.  It really made me think and realize we've gotten off track and need to work on bringing more color and variety into our diets every day.

You can check out "Chasing Away Your Child's Beige Diet Blues" by clicking HERE.  

The author, Diane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLP,  says not to feel guilty -- it is 50/50 - you may serve the foods, but your child has responsibility about what they eat as well.  She suggests we as moms need to become "Food Detectives" and start tracking what you and your family are eating. You can do this as a fun activity with your kids. Try to find pictures of the foods your family is eating and talk about the foods, how they smell, taste, the texture, and discuss other options. She suggests involving kids in making grocery lists, picking out recipes, and the meal preparation process. Make it a fun family activity or Mommy & Me time, so that kids are interested and begin growing their food and nutrition IQ as well as their vocabulary skills.

Diane recommends to go slowly as you expand and improve your family's diet. It may take up to 10-15 times of sampling and tasting new foods before they begin to enjoy new textures, flavors, aromas. 

I thought the ideas in this article sounded like fun and interesting. At activity time with your child, you can find pictures in magazines, online, or in grocery store ads of the foods your family likes to eat. Cut and work together to paste them into an inexpensive composition notebook.  Then find pictures of other foods that are more colorful, like vegetables, fruits, and salads and paste these in to make a Rainbow of Food section in your notebook. Discuss which colorful foods your family likes or would like to try. Encourage your child to try some of these colorful foods. Perhaps you can find recipes online or in cookbooks that include some of the colorful foods they've put in the notebook.




Other fun activities would be to let the kids help make the grocery list, using the notebook you created, and let them help you locate items in the grocery store. This also gives kids a feeling of contribution and encourages them to make healthy choices.  Maybe they would even enjoy making a rainbow chart - and putting a checkmark or sticker on the colors of the rainbow when they've tried a new colorful food. With summer coming, perhaps a fun learning activity would be to grow a vegetable garden with your kids. It doesn't have to be huge or costly - you could pick just a few things to plant such as tomatoes, zucchini, or squash.

There are many small changes you can make slowly over time, that will expand your family's diets to be more colorful and more healthy.  There are many resources online or in books that you can find to deal with food aversions, eating challenges, or healthy cooking with kids.  The article mentioned above lists several resources and books. 

For special needs kids with food issues - you can find resources at Future Horizons, the leader in Autism and SPD resources,  on their page at  http://fhautism.com/books-and-resources/  .  You can also learn more at Diane Bahr's website http://www.agesandstages.net 

You can subscribe to Sensory Focus Magazine for a variety of informative, helpful articles relating to parenting and raising special needs kids with Autism, SPD, etc.  You can get either digital subscription or a paper magazine subscription - check it out HERE



Disclosure: My son has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.  Through my blog,  I have connected with Future Horizons and Sensory World,  Sensory Focus Magazine to share topics of interest with moms and families of special needs kids. I am not compensated for reviews or articles. I will be receiving a complimentary digital subscription to Sensory Focus magazine for sharing the above information, resources and links with you.  Thank you.

3/17/2014

Coastal Scents - Revealed Palette - So Happy to Find This!!



I recently ran out of my Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette and really hated to spend $52 to replace it. I am back to being a domestic diva so I am really watching the budget lately.  In searching online for similar palettes at a more affordable price,  I found Coastal Scents.  Where have I been?? How did I not know about Coastal Scents before now?! OH MY!! They are FABULOUS!!




I found the Revealed Palette and recently bought it on sale for less than $20.  I received it within a week, it arrived in pristine condition along with a sample soap and some stickers. I was very surprised and pleased at how close the colors are to my N2 palette.

I found some great tutorials on YouTube for using this palette and began using it right away.  I especially like this tutorial. There are quite a few. But you can layer and blend this eye shadow so well, and really get a lot of different looks with it. From basic every day to really sexy smoky eyes. It's very silky, has a great level of pigmentation and lasts all day.   I'm already a huge fan.  There really isn't anything I don't like about this palette. (Well, except that I can't go buy it locally, LOL).  I still love Urban Decay and Naked2 - and perhaps will ask for N2 or N3 for Christmas.

I also got the Smacks Lip Gloss in Love Kitten. It wears really well and is really pretty. A bit sparkly for me, so I sometimes wear it with some NYX matte lipstick, or a very sheer coat.  I would love to try some of the other colors. Perhaps when I make my next order.

I am SO glad I found Coastal Scents. I will definitely be a repeat customer!  They are currently having a Hot Pot sale on their individual eye shadows - 99cents each!!!  (384 Colors!). The palette cases are sold separately.   Here is their SALE PAGE . Looks like this sale is on until 11am EST on 3/21/14 so you better hurry!!


I was not prompted to give this review, not compensated nor did I receive any free product from Coastal Scents. I am sharing only my own experience and opinion.  Individual results may vary. 

Retro Girl's New Look!


So I have changed the blog to a new look.  Still retro, but clean and streamlined.  Am still working on the sidebar items with alignment of a few link lists...but for the most part things are ready.  May still do some tweaking here and there.

Many of the other blogs I followed over the years have either disappeared or have been forgotten by their authors. I've lost contact with many fellow bloggers who have abandoned blogging altogether. However I do still keep in touch with a few close bloggy friends on Facebook.  Much has changed in their lives and they no longer blog, but use Instagram and Facebook now.  I also am on all social media sites and can be found there, but I refuse to let Facebook kill my blog. I spent too much time documenting my life and my adoption here, our adventures, mis-adventures, heartaches, and joys. I've also shared some great products that we were fortunate enough to try and give away.


I'm determined to keep blogging. Perhaps someday I will get this blog printed into a Blurb book for my son. 


How do you like the new template?  It was designed by Kate of SweetandLovely , who I found on ETSY.  She offers super fast service, and is very helpful and friendly!  Thanks Kate!


3/12/2014

Butterscotch Love!!


Haven't baked much in awhile now, with trying to improve our eating and lose a few pounds. However this is my hubby's birthday week and I decided to make something new for him.  He loves butterscotch,  and usually loves brownies so I decided to try making Butterscotch Brownies. (Really Blondies, I guess!)

I found a recipe online for Nestle's Butterscotch Brownies.  I used organic brown eggs, organic pure vanilla extract and real butter. (No low fat margarine this time). They came out beautifully!

I noticed many similar recipes on Pinterest and photos that looked like the Brownies/Blondies came out flat and thin.  I think either it was from using low fat margarine products and/or from over-stirring the batter.  I mixed this enough to be combined well, but tried not to over stir so the texture would be just right and they would rise properly.  The batter was thick and firm, and I pressed gently into a 13x9 pan.  The recipe said to use an ungreased pan but I did use nonstick spray - I was afraid it would stick. I think this helped the edges crisp up nicely as well.



The Recipe I used is below. My hubby and son really loved these! None of us has had a Butterscotch Brownie/Blondie before.  They were eaten in squares like a bar cookie,  but I am sure they would be delicious with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream with a drizzle of melted butterscotch over it.




2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (11 ounce) package NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels, divided
1 cup nuts, chopped (I used Pecans)
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in 1 cup morsels, and nuts.
Spread into ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan.

Sprinkle with remaining morsels.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack.


My hubby's actual birthday is Saturday this week. He is not a big fan of birthday cake - so I think I will stick with the Butterscotch theme and make him a Butterscotch Pie for his birthday. He loves whipped cream on pie...so I'm thinking that will be just the treat for his special day.....then back to our diets!

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